Writing Tip #23: The Value of Workshops and Feedback

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The Value of “Workshopping” Your Writing and Receiving Feedback

There is an expression among writing communities that is rather sardonic: Kill your darlings.

Terrible, isn’t it?

But there’s a reason for this expression. It means we must not get too attached to our precious words, or turns of phrase, or even certain scenes. Their only real purpose may be to engage our vanity. Since one of the primary challenges with writing is that it is a very solitary pursuit, we typically need others to tell us when something doesn’t work. And yes, this may mean that we have to kill our darlings.

That brings us to the topic of “workshopping.” This is the process of getting peer reviews of your creative writing so you can improve it.

How Do Writing Workshops Work?

Writing workshops are groups of people who get together to support one another in the writing journey and critique one another’s work. They can be in-person or virtual, and can be very informal or part of a university or other program.

I have been in a virtual workshop for several years with members from various places around the world. We have never met in person, and likely never will. But these are people I trust to tell me the truth. I wouldn’t have it any other way. If something I have written doesn’t work for them, they tell me so.

Why Is It So Hard to Receive Critique?

It can be very hard at first. We love our words. They sprang from the muse, didn't they? This is artistic expression! Doesn’t that mean we should leave those words alone, just as they were when they were born?

No. It doesn’t. Trust me.

The best thing you can do for yourself as a writer is to welcome feedback. It is gold!

What Can You Learn from Critique?

Words are fickle. They might make sense in your mind, but leave someone else wincing in an effort to “get” what your story is trying to say. You need someone else to tell you that, or you might not ever know:

Here are some things that you might learn from critique of your writing:

  • Whether the plot makes sense to readers.
  • Whether they can “see” the setting of the story as they read.
  • If your characters are interesting, and if the reader can related to them.
  • If your dialog seems realistic or cheesy.
  • Whether your story arc is strong, and the resolution is a satisfying payoff.
  • If you have sentence structure to correct, grammar issues, spelling, or other errors that you can’t see because you’re too close to it.

The most important thing is that other people will see things that you don’t. They are reading your work with fresh eyes.

You don’t need a formal workshop to get the benefits. You could turn to a fellow writer you see here in The Ink Well and ask if they want to exchange stories prior to submitting them to a contest. If you and another writer each take one day to read one another’s stories and provide ideas for improvement, you may be surprised how this one simple step can make all the difference.

Getting Feedback from The Ink Well Team

We have a dream of growing The Ink Well into a truly flourishing writing community. Currently, we do not have the resources to provide critique services in a formal manner. However, you may find that we provide suggestions on your story for things to think about that could help you improve your writing.

It may sting sometimes, but if you welcome that feedback and learn from it, you will find that it can help you grow!

Happy writing!

@jayna, writer and moderator at The Ink Well.

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If you're looking to up your fiction game and reach that next level, check out my past writing tips linked below.

Writing Tip #1: Writing from a Prompt

Writing Tip #2: Adding Conflict

Writing Tip #3: Writing What You Know

Writing Tip #4: Avoiding the Dreaded Info Dump

Writing Tip #5: Is ‘Show Don’t Tell’ a Writing Rule?

Writing Tip #6: How Fiction Writing Is Like Weaving

Writing Tip #7: Put It On the Page

Writing Tip #8: What Is a Story Arc?

Writing Tip #9: Should You Plot Your Story?

Writing Tip #10: Don’t Start a Story This Way!

Writing Tip #11: What Is “Writing Voice”?

Writing Tip #12: Reveal Everything and Nothing

Writing Tip #13: Character Types in Fiction

Writing Tip #14: Clichés - Avoid the Conspiratorial Wink

Writing Tip #15: Developing Memorable Characters

Writing Tip #16: Writing Character Descriptions

Writing Tip #17: Overcoming Writer’s Block

Writing Tip #18: Don’t Be a Copycat (Plagiarism is Wrong)

Writing Tip #19: Hook Your Readers

Writing Tip #20: Lessons in Tense Part 1

Writing Tip #21: Editing Your Work with Fresh Eyes

Writing Tip #22: We want to hear from you! What do you want to know?

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We would like to invite lovers of poetry and short stories to visit The Ink Well, a Hive community started by @raj808 and run by @shanibeer @stormlight24 with support from moderators including @carolkean and @jayna.

Also, with the advent of https://hive.vote/ it is now possible to follow The Ink Well curation trail on Hive blockchain. It works just the same as steemauto; simply navigate to the curation trail section and search for theinkwell (all one word with no @ symbol) and our trail will pop up as an option.

Similarly delegations are possible on Hive using the fantastic https://peakd.com/ Hive Blockchain front end. If you wish to delegate to @theinkwell that supports creative writing on Hive by voting all of our contributors, you can do this from the wallet section of https://peakd.com/

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